Costa Rica Vacations

The Costa Rican culture can be summed up in two words—Pura Vida. An everyday greeting, Pura Vida has become famous around the world as an expression of happiness, satisfaction, well-being, and joyful optimism. It's a Spanish expression that literally means "Pure Life," but in the context of the Costa Rican culture, it symbolizes the relaxed and peaceful lifestyle that defines this country. Intertwined with hope and gratitude is a deep love of nature, which has created 22 national parks, 12 biological reserves, and 8 forest reserves. The country boasts an admirable 5% of the world's plant and animal species despite occupying just 0.03% of the earth's surface. The emphasis on preserving nature has contributed to the rise of ecotourism, which now constitutes the major portion of the national income. As a destination it offers you the opportunity to visit coffee plantations, hiking through forests, rafting in foaming white waters, riding horses across the breathtaking landscapes, or watching whales during a cruise—there are so many choices that you can always plan a second (and third) vacation.

Costa Rica Vacation Rentals and Boutique Hotels

Costa Rica Vacations: Things to see while on vacation in Costa Rica

A vacation to this amazing country can be rewarding because of its biodiversity and unique landscape that is famous for its numerous coffee plantations. And your vacation will not be complete until you take a tour to one or more of the eight coffee regions, each one of which has its own unique coffee flavor. The country is a paradise for the coffee aficionados, who will never run out of blends to experiment with. And for the average tourist, the lush green untouched countryside is peaceful and serene, a place where you can feel on top of the world with a cup of freshly brewed beverage in your hand.

Costa Rica Geography

Over the years the landscape has been molded and shaped by many floods, volcanoes, and earthquakes. With a diversity of craters, mighty mountains, black and white beaches, powerful waterfalls and rushing rivers, this vast landscape has a size of 19 653m². Costa Rica is home to approximately 60 volcanoes of which only 5 are active. The area also boasts 14 large rivers that originate from the soaring mountain ranges and leads out into the Caribbean Ocean, San Juan River, Pacific Ocean, and Lake Nicaragua. Two rivers, San Juan and Sixaola, are well known for their white-water rapids. The country is classified as a microclimate and forms part of the Neotropic ecozone that has both Subtropical and tropical climates. 4.5% of the world's biodiversity is found in the vast landscape of Costa Rica. The country boasts approximately 12 119 species of flora, 950 of those species are endemic. There are 1 400 types of orchids and 117 native trees that can be found in the lush forests.

Costa Rica is also home to 838 species of birds, 441 species of reptiles and amphibians, 181 species of freshwater fish, and 232 species of mammals. The high levels of endemic animals includes 17 species of birds, 81 species of reptiles and amphibians and 7 species of mammals. There are also 209 endangered mammals, amphibians, birds, reptiles, and plants in the country. The most endangered animals are the Giant anteater, Golden toad, Harpy eagle and the Jaguar. There are also 26 famous national parks which have more than 160 protected areas such as Botanical Reserves, Natural Wildlife Refuges, Absolute nature Reserves, and Protection Zones. A combination of these areas covers a territory of 9.3% of the country.

Costa Rica History and Culture

Gatherers and hunters were the first inhabitants of this region when it only served as a gateway between the Andean and Mesoamerican natives. Christopher Columbus arrived in the area in 1502 after which his men gained authority over the Costa Rican locals. In 1524, Christopher Columbus incorporated the territory as Spain’s new province. For 300 years Costa Rica remained as a colony under the leadership of Spain that led to and the adaptation of the Spanish culture. Costa Rica shifted to the leadership of the independent Mexican Empire after the Mexican War of Independence that took place between 1810 and 1821. In 1838 Costa Rica gained their full independence but that led to economic struggles, as they no longer relied on their European suppliers. The Costa Rica government compiled the new constitution after the Costa Rican Civil War in 1948, which guaranteed military dismantling and universal suffrage. Today Costa Rica relies on eco-tourism and technology for its economic growth.

Costa Rica Landmarks

• Cinco Ceibas
Hiking through Cinco Ceibas is another experience worth having. Located in the Valle de Sarapiqui, it's a huge private reserve that features Costa Rica's longest boardwalk through the forest. For more serious hikers, there's a two-day trek from Monteverde to Arenal that takes you through breathtaking cloud forests and rivers. Coming to the rivers, they offer enough whitewater variety for rafting by families as well as professionals. The rivers are gentler near Manuel Antonio on the central Pacific coast, a perfect location for a rafting or kayaking with the kids.

• Turrialba Volcano: The Turrialba Volcano is located in central Costa Rica that has been very active since 2014, and has had5 large eruptions in the last 3500 years that results in volcanic ash and large clouds surrounding the area This volcano is 3 340m high and 50m in diameter.

• Basilica of Our Lady of the Angels: Basilica of Our Lady of the Angels is situated in the Cartago was constructed in 1639 but was destroyed. The building was reconstructed in 1939 and is filled with a colonial mix architecture and Byzantine style of the 19th century. This construction represents the infant Jesus being carried by the virgin Maria. The story behind the statue was that a little girl found a rock statue and took it home. The following day the statue was back in its original place. The girl took the priest and he locked it in a small box, but the statue kept on moving back to the rock. The church was destroyed numerous earthquakes. The legend says that the Lady of Los Angeles wanted the basilica built by the rock.

• Africa Safari Adventure Park: The Africa Safari Adventure Park is located in the south of Liberia. This private wildlife park is approximately 100 hectares in size, which allows activities like kayaking in the lagoon and waterfall, hiking trails in the rainforest, and zip lines. This park births approximately 0 to 40 animals per year and is the first park in America who birthed a giraffe in captivity.

• Lake Arenal: Lake Arenal is located north of the highlands in Costa Rika. This lake is currently the largest lake in Costa Rika and spans 85km² with a depth of 30 to 60 meters depending on the season. In 1979 the town of Arenal had to relocate to higher grounds when the dam was expanded. The old town is no abandoned at the bottom of the lake.

• Tortuguero tops the list of must see places in Costa Rica. Located off the Caribbean coast, the splendid town of Tortuguero and its adjacent National Park are accessible only by boat from the town of Moin or a plane ride from San Jose. The village itself very is small, but it’s the Tortuguero National Park and the overall regional culture that are worth exploring. The Tortuguero National Park is a highly diverse park boasting lofty rainforests, marshy lands, beaches, and rivers, where it's not unusual to spot a crocodile. The Park offers a spectrum of exciting activities, but the most fascinating experience is to watch the Green Sea Turtles laying or hatching eggs at night.

•Corcovado National Park
Located in the South Puntarenas, the Corcovado National Park is another ecologically diverse and biologically intense place that is a must see. Ecotourism is at its best here, because the Park is mostly undisturbed and naturally beautiful. It features the world's only lowland rainforest where endangered animal and plant species thrive. The inaccessibility and isolation of the 41,000 hectare Park has preserved almost 700 species of animals and more than 500 species of plants and trees. You can spot the exotic Scarlet Macaws, the Resplendent Quetzals, the Red-Eyed Tree Frog, the Tapir, the poison arrow frog, indigenous wild cats, crocodiles, pumas, jaguars, and many types of sea turtles here. The best time for a vacation in Costa Rica is during the dry season which occurs from December through February, unless of course you want to experience the Costa Rica rainforests during the rainy season, then you should go during May through October.